Festivals ‘safer places to be’ because of testing – Reading and Leeds boss

·2-min read

The organiser of Reading and Leeds Festivals has said such events are arguably “safer places to be” because attendees have been tested for Covid-19.

The sister concerts are returning this year with headliners including Stormzy, after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

Melvin Benn, managing director of the Festival Republic Group, told BBC Radio 4 young people were often in environments where they were not tested and did not know whether people around them were infectious.

Reading Festival 2021
Attendees queue for Reading Festival (Steve Parsons/PA)

He said: “I certainly think that the virus is continuing and we have to get used to it or we have to increase the number of vaccinations.

“The Government are encouraging more vaccinations. We as an organisation are encouraging more vaccinations. We have a vaccination centre on site at both Reading and Leeds, for example. So that is ultimately what will reduce that spread.

“Of course, the people coming to the event are all lateral flow tested. They are being lateral flow tested as they walk through the gate now and we are asking them to do it again after three days.

“So we are doing everything that we can and we are putting people – young people particularly – in an environment where they are all being tested.

Reading Festival 2021
Festival-goers walk along the towpath of the River Thames (Steve Parsons/PA)

“Whereas again, in the main, young people are often in environments where they are not being tested and they don’t know whether the people around them have the virus or not.

“So arguably actually it is a safer place to be when you know that everybody has been tested.”

Questioned over his claim, Mr Benn added: “I am saying that arguably it is better to be in a place where everyone is tested than not tested. Yes, that is what I believe.”

Liam Gallagher, Disclosure, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Post Malone and grime star Stormzy are among the acts due to perform at the festivals at the Richfield Avenue and Bramham Park sites over August bank holiday weekend.

Reading Festival 2021
Music fans at the Richfield Avenue site (Steve Parsons/PA)

This summer, Festival Republic Group was also responsible for organising a reduced capacity Download festival in Donington Park in Leicestershire and Latitude Festival in Suffolk – both of which took place as part of the Government’s live events pilot scheme.

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